Under The Red Cloud

Written by: AP on 27/11/2015 22:56:51

Amorphis is often bypassed when discussing the who’s-whos of melodic death metal, as despite celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, the Finnish veterans never quite managed to capture the endearment of metallers to the degree that the handful of Swedish artists considered to be the progenitors of the genre did (not to mention Amorphis’ countrymen in Children of Bodom). The fact feels unfair, considering that none of those outfits can be credited for delivering top notch handicraft with the same unwavering consistency as Amorphis. But then the sextet has never been wont to pen arena spanning choruses or otherwise compromise on their ideas in exchange for greater accessibility; they have stuck to their guns, yet as anyone familiar with their 1992 debut “The Karelian Isthmus” and indeed its 1994 successor “Tales from the Thousand Lakes” can attest to, the band can hardly be accused of being inflexible. As their moniker suggests, with each album the Finns have grown and morphed to arrive at something that is probably better described as melancholy metal on this latest offering, “Under the Red Cloud”.

Enchanting from the first note, the eponymous opening track weaves the sombre, yet magnificent melodicism of Finnish folk music into its heavy fabric with exceptional finesse, delivering perhaps the most grandiose introduction to a metal album heard this year before "The Four Wise Ones" harks back to classic Dark Tranquillity with deep growling, double pedals, and shifts between an epic tremolo melody and ringing clean notes accentuated with panflute. "Bad Blood" then infringes upon the memory by virtue of both an effective staccato riff and its mournfully sung chorus, "Draw the poison from my veins, let out the bad blood in me. Let the steam run golden and true, let out the bad blood in me.", until at track five the sextet rolls the dice with the mystical "Death of a King", a killer, distinctly oriental piece that would not sound misplaced on an Orphaned Land record . At this point, the record is stationed at an absurdly high level, with not a finger to point at a lacklustre idea nor imperfect execution, which for a long standing connoisseur of melodic death metal such as the undersigned is a sensation seldom felt as the years pass by and the heyday of the genre slowly fades into oblivion. Ironically, Amorphis' retrogazing approach makes them sound fresh and exciting.

Naturally, one might expect that the band could not possibly maintain the standard for the entire duration of the album. But while the remaining five tracks sans the oustanding folk metal anthem "Tree of Ages" (which sounds like a superchild born from the matrimony of Ensiferum and Insomnium) are not quite as electrifying, only the most stubborn and foolhardy of critics could push themselves to flaunt these as ineffectual. Just as the group's discography prides itself on consistency, so too does "Under the Red Cloud" distinguish itself upon the éclat of superb song writing front to back. Forward thinking the album is not, but melodic death metal of a higher order than what Amorphis have stitched together here will be difficult to come by.


Download: Under the Red Cloud, The Four Wise Ones, Death of a King, Tree of Ages
For the fans of: Dark Tranquillity, Insomnium, Omnium Gatherum, Orphaned Land
Listen: Facebook

Release date 04.09.2015
Nuclear Blast Records

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